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Big Tippers The factors that push businesses over the edge and into the type of growth there's no coming back from

By Mark Henricks

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Market research and competitive intelligence have always been aminor part of the services provided by Steve Rice, a Florham Park,New Jersey, environmental management consultant. However, afterreading a book about a concept called the tipping point, the48-year-old former corporate environmental executive plans torevamp his strategy, pushing a little harder to pitch competitiveintelligence and thinking more about whom to pitch to in hopes thatthese offerings may lead to a growth surge for his business."The tipping point got me to thinking," Rice says,"whether this could be a bigger part, if not the biggest part,of my business."

The basic idea behind the tipping point is that things canhappen fast. The tipping point is the point at which a situationthat may have seemed stable or only very slowly changing suddenlygoes through a massive, rapid shift. "It's the boilingpoint. It's the moment when the line starts to shoot straightupwards," explains , author of The Tipping Point (Little, Brown), abook that explains the concept of the tipping point and ways it canbe used in business and in life.

Gladwell chronicles numerous examples of tipping points, rangingfrom the effect of Paul Revere's midnight ride on Americanhistory to the way Hush Puppies shoes suddenly went from out offashion to very chic. In each case, he shows why and how thesituation quickly and dramatically changed due to the effects ofsome powerful tipping-point activators.

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